No-Sew Heavy-Duty Curtains

Reader Contribution by Carole Coates
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My daughter-in-law’s drop cloth curtains.

Did you know painters’ drop cloths can be used to make super-simple but classy curtains? This inexpensive DIY decorating hack looks anything than cheap. My savvy daughter-in-law hung drop cloth curtains on her screened porch and they look fabulous. Here’s the skinny.

What you Need

Canvas drop cloths; curtain rings with detachable clips; hardware and curtain rods of your choice, either wood or metal; drill and screwdriver for attaching rods.

Measuring for Curtains

Generally, curtains should be at least two times the width of your window for a full, drapey effect. If making two panels per window, each panel should be as wide as the window. Rods typically extend about four inches beyond each edge of the window frame.

There are several factors to determining drapery length Drapes can hover just above the floor or puddle—a great solution for uneven floors. For puddling, add about three inches to your measurements. Determine rod placement—the closer they are to the ceiling, the taller your windows will appear.

If your drop cloth is too long for your needs, you have two options to avoid cutting and sewing. You can puddle curtains on the floor and/or fold the drop cloth over at the top. If you want the look of a valance, turn the extra material toward the room. Otherwise, fold extra fabric behind the curtain.

Next Steps

Detach rings from clips and slide desired number of rings onto the rod. Attach rod to wall.

Attach ring clips to fabric. For even distribution of ring clips, attach a clip to each end, then fold the fabric in half to clip on the center ring. Fold each half in half for the next ring, and so forth. Aim for adding clips every eight-ten inches. If you want a pleated effect, create a folds at top edge of fabric and clip at the back edge of each fold.

Slip clipped curtain onto rings.

All Drop Cloths Are Not the Same

Look in your local hardware or home improvement store or search online for canvas drop cloths. Look for ones that are hemmed on all sides.

Drop cloths come in a variety of sizes and weights. Choose the size based on your measurements. Heavy-weight cloths are much harder to work with, and light weight ones won’t hang as well, so I prefer a medium weight.

Some drop cloths have a seam running down the middle. Look for those with no seam for a smoother look.

If you are purchasing multiple drop cloths, be sure all of them are the same color and texture.


The oatmeal color of canvas drop cloths is great for a natural look. But, if you prefer something more vibrant, you can dye (if all cotton), stencil, or paint them freehand.

My daughter-in-law saved even more money by using metal electrical conduit for curtain rods. They can be cut to length with a hacksaw.

Drop cloth fabric is stiff. For a softer look and feel, wash and dry fabric. All-cotton fabric will shrink, so factor that into your measurements.

Iron fabric before hanging if you want a crisp look. For a more rustic style, skip the ironing. If you wish, you can dampen the hung curtain by lightly spraying it with water. Time and the weight of the fabric will pull out some of the wrinkles.

Easy Peasy

Closed curtains keep the porch cooler but let in summer breezes.

Making DIY drop cloth curtains is quick and easy. If you’re looking for more detail, you can find illustrated step-by-step instructions on You Tube videos. Drop cloth curtains look great, and you will save a bundle by making them yourself.

Carole Coatesis a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, and modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog postshere. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonalwhere she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


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